Values Panel discusses end-to-end principle, safety, governance

29 04 2010

Core Values of the Web Chair Alejandro Pisanty and Danny Weitzner of the NTIA discuss the ways to identify and promote Web values.

The Core Values of the Web Panel, chaired by Alejandro Pisanty, was comprised of five experts from a spectrum of positions.

Scott Bradner, a Jon Postel Service Award winner at the Internet Society, spoke about the history of the Internet and the origin of the Internet’s core values. He explained that the end-to-end principles originated from the Internetadministrators’ decision to split TCP and IP into two separate protocols. The concept was to keep issues best handled by the end systems out of the Internet itself, allowing the ends to make their own decisions.

He also discussed the tendency of application developers to see their own creation as the most important, insisting that the Internet should be changed to make it more suited for a particular purpose. But Bradner explained that the Internet was not created for any one particular purpose.

“My biggest surprise [is that] it’s not just geeks talking to other geeks,” he said. “Mom surfs.”

He said the Internet’s value of end decision-making should be protected.

Bill St. Arnaud, an information technology consultant and futurist who was formerly the chief research officer at CANARIE Inc., spoke about how the Internet should be further used to reduce its users’ carbon footprints. He said many processes can be moved online and reduce emissions through eliminating shipping and transportation costs.

At the same time, the servers that keep the Internet running currently use fossil fuels. He promoted initiatives to move all of the servers to renewable energy sources like wind, solar and hydropower.

Parry Aftab is a consultant on cybercrime, Internet privacy, kids’ safety online and cyber-abuse issues who spoke about the importance of protecting people on the Internet without restricting their freedoms.

“Sometimes when people interview me, they seem to think there is a tension between being creative with technology and being safe,” she said. But she also said the answer is not “turning it off.”

“[The Internet] gives them the chance to use creativity so a little child in rural Alabama can write poetry that Maya Angelou can see,” she said.

She likened the Internet to driving a car, saying there should be precautions but those precautions should be limited. She said values should not be determined for the user; the user should be able to determine his or her own values from the Internet.

Nathaniel James, who currently works with the Mozilla Foundation and was a former leader of OneWebDay, talked about an effective way to determine and promote values of the Web. He is working with Mozilla to launch, which he describes as a sort of Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts or Sierra Club for the Web.

The principal behind it was democratic, to “get outside of geek-friendly communities.” The experience is intended to combine values, the experience of building something and fun, a model that has been used all over the world.

Danny Weitzner, an associate administrator for policy at the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, spoke about the viability of a governing body or a code of conduct for the Internet. He said that it will need to be a multi-stakeholder initiative open to governments, NGOs, corporations and individuals.

Although some people say it a code of conduct could not possibly predict all the issues the Internet will face, Weitzner said there should be some stability and a channel for the problems to be addressed quickly.

-by Rachel Cieri

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